"Slaughter" for the Caribbean if climate change hits 2degC

22 Dec 2015
LWF COP 21 delegate, Thamesha Watson of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Guyana, says the impact of climate change on Latin America and the Caribbean would be devastating.

LWF COP 21 delegate, Thamesha Watson of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Guyana, says the impact of climate change on Latin America and the Caribbean would be devastating.

Thamesha Watson

It is often said that the world’s smallest states stand on the frontline of climate change.

The Caribbean, composed of richly blessed countries with turquoise beaches, golden sands, lush rainforests, magnificent waterfalls and many more diverse splendours indeed stand at the frontline. It is now exposed to the harsh impacts and destruction of climate change. What a tragedy it is that something so royal is eroding to nothing more than a skeleton of which was once embodied in glory.

An increase of 2°C is a dangerous threshold for the Caribbean. It is potentially the ruin of small islands, and the destruction of human habitats on low lying coastal areas especially in countries such as Belize and Guyana. This would be highly damaging to the Caribbean, jeopardizing decades of development achievements.

As Jorge Familiar, World Bank Vice President of Latin America and the Caribbean stated recently during a speech in Washington, DC, "the number of severe hurricanes will increase by 40%, with double the energy of the current average." 

An increase in climate temperature of this degree would lead to the mass extinction of coral reefs and tropical fisheries.

Bleaching of coral reefs would increase and the Caribbean fish catch volume would decrease by up to 50%. Coral reef ecosystems are not only the most iconic of the ecosystems but the services they provide to a community form a vital economic part of every one of the countries that make up the Caribbean. They serve as food, as a main form of coastal protection and as a basis for tourism; people in the Caribbean are dependent on the services that the reefs provide.

“1.5 to stay alive” is the plea of Caribbean countries, advocating for a 1.5-degree Celsius benchmark.

“When we demand 1.5 to stay alive, we are not simply championing a development cause; we are standing our ground against the rising water of climatic catastrophe ... We are fighting for nothing less than our survival and our right to preserve and protect the corner of Earth that we have inherited from our parents that is our sacred responsibility to pass to our children,” Dr Didacus Jules, Director General of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, told the conference’s plenary session in Paris.

An upsurge in climate change will "corrode" stomachs, bodies and pockets. Food prices will spike, agricultural activities will be greatly affected, prices of healthcare and basic necessities will vastly increase, poverty will be greater and mortality rate will be even higher. 

So what does 2 degrees increase in climate temperature mean for the Caribbean? It means turquoise beaches will turn to black waters, golden sands will turn to eroded debris, lush rainforests will turn to dried branches, waterfalls will turn to rapids of despair and diverse splendours will turn to frontiers of grimness – it means slaughter in the second degree for the Caribbean.

Thamesha Watson is a LWF COP21 delegate representing Latin Ameria and the Caribbean.

Thamesha Watson
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author, and not necessarily representative of Lutheran World Federation policy.